Nadia Boulanger music quote 1

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“A great work of art is made out of a combination of obedience and liberty” Nadia Boulanger Click to Tweet

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About Nadia Boulanger

Juliette Nadia Boulanger (French: [ʒy.ljɛt na.dja bu.lɑ̃.ʒe]; 16 September 1887 – 22 October 1979) was a French composer, conductor, and teacher. She is notable for having taught many of the leading composers and musicians of the 20th century. She also performed occasionally as a pianist and organist.

From a musical family, she achieved early honours as a student at the Paris Conservatoire but, believing that she had no particular talent as a composer, she gave up writing music and became a teacher. In that capacity, she influenced generations of young composers, especially those from the United States and other English-speaking countries. Among her students were those who became leading composers, soloists, arrangers, and conductors, including Aaron Copland, Roy Harris, Virgil Thomson, Darius Milhaud, Elliott Carter, David Diamond, Dinu Lipatti, Igor Markevitch, İdil Biret, Daniel Barenboim, John Eliot Gardiner, Philip Glass, Lalo Schifrin, Astor Piazzolla, Quincy Jones, and Michel Legrand. Her female students, whose chances in the 20th century for recognition were significantly lower than that of the men, included Grażyna Bacewicz, Louise Talma and Elaine Bearer.

Boulanger taught in the US and England, working with music academies including the Juilliard School, the Yehudi Menuhin School, the Longy School, the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music, but her principal base for most of her life was her family's flat in Paris, where she taught for most of the seven decades from the start of her career until her death at the age of 92.

Boulanger was the first woman to conduct many major orchestras in America and Europe, including the BBC Symphony, Boston Symphony, Hallé, New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia orchestras. She conducted several world premieres, including works by Copland and Stravinsky.

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